June 19, 2024

The Pinstripe Alley Making the Team Meter is back for another week, evaluating the chances of players making it onto the Yankees team. This week’s spring training has been challenging for the Yankees, with key players like Gerrit Cole, Aaron Judge, and DJ LeMahieu undergoing tests. Cole is expected to start the season on the injured list due to an elbow injury, and Judge has been absent from games since last Sunday. These developments add complexity to the ongoing competition for bullpen and bench spots.

Here’s a reminder of the key for reference:

– Players cut or removed from the injured list before last Monday won’t be included.
– Players cut within the last seven days will be considered.

As usual, let’s begin with the pitchers:

The starting rotation has not been extensively discussed in this year’s Making the Team meter until now, except for a brief mention of Luis Gil and Yoendrys Gómez being optioned to Triple-A during the first week of spring training. Unfortunately, the Yankees’ streak of pitching health this spring ended as Gerrit Cole, the staff ace and reigning Cy Young winner, will be sidelined for a couple of months due to an elbow injury, though it doesn’t seem to involve a UCL tear.

While no one can truly replace Cole in the rotation, someone will need to step up and fill the void. It’s expected that Luke Weaver, who has a major-league deal and made three starts for the Yankees last season, will likely be the next man up. However, Aaron Boone has spoken highly of Cody Poteet, a former fourth-round pick who signed with the Yankees in January after recovering from Tommy John surgery. Bryan Hoch currently projects Poteet to take over, with Weaver serving as a long reliever.

Clayton Beeter and Will Warren are also in contention, and both have impressed this spring. Despite Warren’s rough outing against Boston, where he struggled, the team was impressed with his ability to bounce back from adversity. Luis Gil, despite being sent down to Triple-A, has continued to impress with his performances, showcasing a high strikeout rate and excellent outings against tough opponents. Many analysts advocate for Gil to start the season in the Yankees’ rotation, but the final decision remains uncertain given the differing opinions.

In the bullpen, there’s more clarity with Jonathan Loáisiga returning and several players being sent down. The final bullpen spots are narrowed down to a few candidates, depending on Kahnle’s readiness and Weaver’s role. Lastly, the catching situation will be discussed next.

Apart from Carlos Narvaez being optioned to Triple-A, there have been minimal changes in the catching situation. Jose Trevino is expected to handle the majority of playing time, with either Ben Rortvedt or Austin Wells as his backup. Wells is currently favored for the role due to his offensive contributions, defensive improvements, and consistent appearances alongside the starters. However, since Rortvedt is out of options, the Yankees might retain him and send Wells to the minors. There’s also a possibility of the Yankees starting the season with three catchers on the roster to maintain flexibility.

While Luis Torrens’ return to the team is noteworthy, he’s mainly in camp for depth purposes and is likely headed to Scranton.

Moving on to the position players:

The Yankees made minor adjustments this week by sending down two position players, Josh VanMeter and Everson Pereira. However, since both players were already on the periphery of the roster, this move doesn’t significantly change the team’s outlook.

The main factor affecting the roster calculus is Aaron Judge’s injury status. Although team officials have downplayed the seriousness of his injury and are confident he’ll be ready for Opening Day, his absence would create a major challenge for the team’s lineup.

Fortunately, having Trent Grisham as a legitimate backup center fielder provides some clarity on how to adjust the lineup if Judge or any other outfielder is sidelined. However, Grisham’s inclusion in the starting lineup leaves a gap on the bench that needs to be filled by another outfielder. This situation puts players like Jahmai Jones, Greg Allen, Luis González, and Oscar Gonzalez in contention for roster spots.

Even if Judge returns on time, the Yankees still have openings on the bench, particularly for a backup shortstop. This position could be filled by either Oswaldo Cabrera or Kevin Smith from the remaining camp players. It’s possible that the Yankees will make additional roster moves before Opening Day to finalize the bench.

This summarizes the current state of the roster. Do you agree with our analysis? Share your thoughts in the comments below! We’ll provide another update next week in our final Making the Team Meter for 2024!

 

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